MESA, Ariz. - Cell phone video shows an Arizona Department of Public Safety Patrol Officer struggling for more than two minutes to place a man in handcuffs Monday afternoon.
During the incident off the Loop 202 exit ramp near Brown Road, the man is seen not wearing shoes and repeatedly yelling, claiming the asphalt where he is lying is too hot.
The officer repeatedly yells at him to turn over on his stomach. The man refuses, saying the ground is too hot.
After nearly two minutes, two other men run to assist the highway patrol officer. They subdue the man, and the officer escorts him into the back of a squad car.
Two experts familiar with law enforcement protocol gave very different opinions of the video. However, they both agreed it’s necessary to know what happened before the video was rolling to better understand the officer’s mindset.
Arizona DPS said the trooper in the video had stopped the driver, 34-year-old Marc LeBeau, for going 95 miles per hour when the speed limit was 65.
“Although the pavement was hot, it did not have to end up there," said Lt. Colonel Daniel Lugo, Assistant Director of AZ DPS, “We don’t get to pick the location a combative suspect wants to fight…they do. Thanks to two courageous citizens helping our trooper, we were able to gain control of Mr. LeBeau and get him in the back of a police car before he seriously hurt himself or our trooper.”The 2 minute 48 second video was provided by Austin Maxwell and began recording near the end of the trooper’s contact with LeBeau. The video depicts LeBeau clearly disobeying and resisting the trooper and citizens as they tried to place him under arrest.
DPS said LeBeau was medically treated at the scene by fire department personnel and taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for minor scrapes and released.
Criminal defense attorney Mike Black said he was troubled because the officer in the video seems to be physically much larger than the arrest subject.
“From the video, it clearly appears [the officer’s conduct is] excessive,” Black said.
Toward the end of the struggle, the officer pushes his knee into the back of the suspect’s neck – a move Black also said appeared excessive.
“I think that officer elongated that stop to accommodate whatever he was intending to do,” Black said.
Former Phoenix Law Enforcement Association vice president Dave Kothe said the video appeared to show the patrol officer using necessary force to control a volatile situation.
“He is trying to gain control of an uncooperative, combative subject,” Kothe said. “He wasn’t throwing punches. He was physically trying to gain control of the suspect. One of the techniques that is used is to trying to use your knee to put it at the base of the person’s neck to try to control their shoulders and their head. But you don’t see any blows being delivered by the trooper.”
Kothe called the officer’s actions “Policing 101.”
“He’s got a tiger by the tail and trying to get the subject under control,” Kothe added.